back to article Are ALIENS hiding on Jupiter's Europa? Let's find out, cry NASA bods

NASA has finished sketching out plans to send a probe to Europa, Jupiter's most curious moon, and is ready to put the operation into action. "Today we're taking an exciting step from concept to mission, in our quest to find signs of life beyond Earth," said John Grunsfeld, associate administrator for NASA's Science Mission …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "Having abundant liquid water next to Jupiter could make the moon the filling station for a generation of space probes, provided the ice isn't too deep to drill through."

    Maybe prudent to to switch the lights off while topping the tank off! From memory, it didn't work out too well for the Chinese in the book version of 2010.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Why in the world would space probes need liquid water???

    You think they're going to land, drill down through hundreds or thousands of meters of ice to get to liquid water, and pump it up into the probe? Seriously??

    If making a pit stop to grab H2O was desired, why not just scoop up some of the conveniently solidified water on Europa's surface? No drilling, no pumping, a bit of RTG waste heat will melt it into a liquid if/when required. Not that I think the idea of landing on a body as large as Europa makes a lot of sense no matter how easy it is to get the water, since you'd have to give up your hard won momentum to do it, and then escape not only Europa's but Jupiter's gravitational field to continue the journey.

    Even if it was a great idea I'd oppose until we'd conclusively proven that Europa's oceans did not house (and never had) any sort of life at all.

    1. teebie

      Re: Why in the world would space probes need liquid water???

      No, in the far future they'll land, pick up some of water (etc) that was extracted by the MuskCorp WaterDrill, and pump that into the probe.

  3. Anonymous Coward

    The ice wouldn't really be useful for space probes.

    Separating the oxygen and hydrogen might would be nice for manned spaceflight though.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The ice wouldn't really be useful for space probes.

      "The ice wouldn't really be useful"

      Nonsense. By the time they'd managed to get to Europa, future astronauts will be killing for a mint julep.

  4. Mark 85

    Forget about filling stations, etc.

    Let's just get there and see what it's like before making any vacation plans.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The black monolith detector is already finished

    If the lander comes suddenly hurtling back we've found one. Especially if it has a "No junk probes or other unsolicited mail" sticker attached.

    1. Laura Kerr
      Thumb Up

      Re: The black monolith detector is already finished

      Excellent! Have an upvote for the Lost Worlds reference.

  6. emmanuel goldstein

    why does it cost $120K per hour to fly a B-2?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Coz it b 2 expensive

      1. AbelSoul

        Re: it b 2 expensive

        Bravo, sir!

        That is all.

    2. Bob Foster

      why does it cost $120K per hour to fly a B-2?

      "You don't actually think they spend $20,000 on a hammer, $30,000 on a toilet seat, do you?"

    3. Jimmy2Cows Silver badge

      RE: why does it cost $120K per hour to fly a B-2?

      It's a big expensive plane that needs a lot of fuel, lot of crew and support both in the air and on the ground, and a metric fuck ton of maintenance per flight hour.

      I know Wikipedia isn't always the most reliable source, but it gives it pretty good rundown of costs.

      Scroll down to Program costs and procurement, last paragraph.

  7. AbelSoul

    Call a spade a spade..

    "Europa, Jupiter's most curious moon."

    Nosey bugger.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    From the picture it looks as if there's veins running over the surface. I don't think we have to look for aliens hiding there. I think it is one big giant alien.

    1. Richard Wharram


      It's like looking at your Nan's legs.



      1. Anonymous Coward

        Re: Eww...

        You leave my sweet Nan out of it!

        1. AbelSoul

          Re: my sweet Nan...


          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: my sweet Nan...


            Just had one; the Karachi Tandoori in E15 do a cracking Peshwari.

  9. Graham Marsden
    Thumb Up

    "about the same cost as flying a B-2 bomber for 250 hours"

    And a damned sight more useful!

  10. MonkeyCee

    $20,000 hammers

    The military don't actually spend $20,000 on a hammer, it's just an accounting fudge.

    You have a delivery of parts and tools, with a total cost. Accounting wants a cost per item, so just divide total cost by number of items and assign it.

    So you get an order that has a $500 hammer, and a $500 jet engine.

    Unsurprisingly, the hammer costs less, and the jet engine costs more. But you only ever hear about the expensive hammer, because it fits into the pre-existing conclusion of "government be crazy wasteful"

    Same way as McDonalds PR has managed to make the "Hot Coffee" lady story out to be about frivolous lawsuits instead of corporate negligence.

    Repeating simple stories to confirm an existing bias just makes people look stupid.

    Or if it's about "Negros lustily raping white women" then you get nutty white guys shooting elderly lady preachers.

    1. Doctor_Wibble

      Re: $20,000 hammers

      > The military don't actually spend $20,000 on a hammer, it's just an accounting fudge.

      Aside from the movie-quote aspect, my understanding is the scary pricing of things isn't down to total cost divided by number of widgets, it's mostly down to the scary specs that are required of a fairly small run of specialist items. And the threat of an army of lawyers descending upon your company if the widget for some reason doesn't work 100% perfectly 100% of the time. These things just don't have the economies of mass-production to cover the design and development over a consumer run of several million units.

      I know I read a good write-up a while back of why a $30,000 toilet seat was probably quite good value for money but I can't find it right now though I hope I got the main points! I suspect accounting practices might also vary somewhat...

      1. Rikkeh

        Re: $20,000 hammers

        An exploration of the $30,000 toilet seat (which was for an aeroplane) is in "The Darwin Economy" by Robert Frank.

        If I rightly recall, it was so expensive because it had to be a funny shape to fit in the only available niche for it in the plane, they only made a very small number of them and they had to be fire-proof, lightweight etc because they were in a military aircraft that was built with the expectation of being shot at.

        I seem to remember that it was really good value (i.e. saved more than it cost) because it greatly increased the endurance of the aircraft, meaning that less time and money was spent on takeoff/landing and flying to the area, and because fewer aircraft were needed to do the job (which was surveillance of some kind).

  11. Marco van de Voort

    US to colonize Europa

    ... would have been a much better title. Sad to see standards slipping.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Re: US to colonize Europa

      Eastward Ho!

  12. GX5000

    Seeding life

    SO we're sending kits that will be carrying all imaginable bacteria which we can't eliminate, through space, getting a dose of radiation into a warm ocean on another planetoid.....hummm....

    1. Graham Marsden

      @GX5000 - Re: Seeding life


  13. rickyjames

    ....Not A Drop To Drink

    "Having abundant liquid water next to Jupiter could make the moon the filling station for a generation of space probes, provided the ice isn't too deep to drill through."

    This is the space equivalent of "water, water everywhere, and not a drop to drink". Yes, the surface / subsurface of Europa has a treasure trove of tempting water to use as reaction mass / oxygen / fuel. Going down to get it will fry anything that tries to do so. Europa orbits in the Jovian equivalent of Earth's Van Allen radiation belts. An astronaut strolling on the surface of Europa in a spacesuit for a day will die of radiation poisoning shortly thereafter. A spacecraft sitting on the surface for weeks had better have some very good (and very heavy) shielding.

    Pity, that.

  14. Arachnoid

    I`ll leave this here

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Other stories you might like